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A 2011 Tech Trend Preview

12/13/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

IN CABLE, DECEMBER IS TYPICALLY A TECH heavy
month — until 2003, because
of the Western Show, sandwiched
in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. More recently, because of the
gadget bonanza that is the annual
Consumer Electronics Show.

A brief walk through Tech Decembers
past: Way back when
(Dec. 1, 1977), the pioneering
interactive-TV project known as QUBE launched.
Three Decembers later, Zenith took the wraps off of
a programmable VCR. (List price: $1,350.)

Microsoft announced its “Insight Architect”
program — its first foray into interactive TV — in
December of ’94. Also that month: AT&T, IBM,
Northern Telecom and H-P all announced their
plans to make set-top boxes for cable. (None ever
really materialized.)

The CableLabs specifications that begat the
DOCSIS cable modem were unveiled in December
of ’96. (Note: This means that cable broadband
turns 15 in 2011.)

This week in 2001, technologists at AT&T Broadband
and Cox were pulling all-nighters, orchestrating
a frenetic, seven-day cutover from the Excite@
Home broadband effort — perhaps the industry’s
most fiery collapse.

Here’s a short list of what appear to be the most
plausible tech trend lines for 2011:

Cable over IP, or whatever we’re going to call the
notion of sending a managed video service over
those broadband pipes. Despite the lack of a good
descriptor, the body of work is critically important to
compete with the growing list of over-the-top video
alternatives.

Deals, deals, deals. Call it a widget, soft client,
cable button — it’s the thing that pops up on the
Internet-connected TV, after you buy it and hang
it on the wall. Picture it as the MSO-branded button
sitting next to the Netflix button. Getting there
means cutting deals with consumer electronics
makers. Samsung and Panasonic are safe bets,
given their cable partnership histories.

Freight fights. The scuffle between Comcast,
Level 3 and, ultimately, the bulge of Netflix bits clogging
the industry’s broadband pipes will intensify
next year .

Web services, to outfit, say, the deployed base
of OCAP (OpenCable Applications Platform) set-top
middleware, to do IP video.

Expressed interfaces, another term in the “Webservices”
lingo that means opening up key back-office
components to IP-based techniques. It matters
for economically speeding the deployment of new
services and apps.

All of it will almost certainly provide a heaping
plate of jargon and gibberish. We’ll keep the light
on it for you.


Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at translation-please.com or multichannel.com/blog.
September